International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

3G Narcissism and Politics: From Generation to Generation

(Session Organizer) Jerrold M. Post, The George Washington University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: The George Washington University
Research Area: Leadership and political personality

This panel considers the generational transmission of dreams of glory and the psychogenesis of narcissistic leaders. Underlying the grandiose façade of the narcissist is a “wounded self.” To be raised to be special, to be the vehicle of the parents’ success, can have serious consequences for the developing personality, foreclosing their own individuation, and placing the burden of succeeding for their parents on their shoulders.  The first paper, presented by Jerrold Post, will consider the impact of “great expectations” on the developing child, drawing on psychobiographic material concerning the overly close relationships of the mothers of Woodrow Wilson, General Douglas MacArthur, and Prime Minister Hawke of Australia.   It will include a discussion of the concept of the “telescoping of generations”, the narcissistic bridge between generations. Two “daughters of destiny,” both female South Asian leaders, Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto will be discussed.  Gandhi will be presented by   Jessica Chaudhary who will trace “great expectations” back to her grandfather and will elaborate the conflicts between the roles of daughter and wife.  Kristen Moody will present a psychobiographic profile of Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, who felt impelled to follow the path of martyrdom first charted by her father. And finally, Ruthie Pertsis will present a paper on “Leaders by Default”,  exploring the  psychodynamic conflicts of  three leaders raised in the shadow of their heroic older brothers, designated to be the family political leader, belatedly chosen when their brothers were killed, John F. Kennedy, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Bashir al-Assad of Syria.